1 Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε. (Galatians 5:1 NA28)
1 For this freedom, Christ freed us, therefore, stand fast, and be not held again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In Galatians 5:1 (above), the reference to the freedom for which Christ freed us refers to Paul’s arguments from Galatians 4. Never forget the purpose of this letter to the Galatian churches. They were being attacked by “Judiazers” who were attempting to get these Gentile believers to look to keeping the Jewish ceremonial law and regulations because they were saying the atonement bought for them through Christ’s blood was not sufficient for their justification. Paul’s argument is exactly the opposite. In Galatians 5:1, he makes it clear to them that Christ freed us through His atoning death especially for this freedom and those who have it must stand firm and not submit again to a yoke of legalism or slavery.
5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:5-10 NASB
One of the first books I bought after I began studying theology was The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by 17th Century Puritan Dr. John Owen. The following is an excerpt from the introductory essay for this book:
“The Death of Death in the Death of Christ is a polemical work, designed to show, among other things, that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive of the gospel. There are many, therefore, to whom it is not likely to be of interest. Those who see no need for doctrinal exactness and have no time for theological debates which show up divisions between so-called Evangelicals may regret its reappearance.”
As I reread Book 1, over the last couple of days, I was actually amazed at how edifying it is for the Christian to read of the propitiatory work of Christ on the Cross specifically for his or her behalf, that is, to purchase them specifically by His blood.
According to Christian Examine:
Dennis Lotz, the 78-year-old husband of Anne Graham Lotz, was discovered unresponsive floating in the family pool Monday afternoon, according to a post on Lotz’s Facebook site.
Anne Graham Lotz is the second daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and the founder of AnGel Ministies. Her brother,Franklin Graham, is the Founder of Samaritan’s Purse.
Christian News Network reports:
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is calling upon Christians and their pastors to “rise up” for biblical values during the 2016 election season.
“Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the Body of Christ rises up and that Christians stand up—that pastors stand up and lead,” he said in a recent interview with the American Family Association during a campaign stop in Mississippi. (Watch here.)
He noted that his father, Rafael Cruz, a pastor, has been encouraging other pastors to be salt and light in the nation.
“He will tell pastors, ‘Listen, God really laid upon my heart that no one bears greater responsibility for the condition of this country today than the pastors,’” Cruz explained. “Because if the flock stumbles into a ditch, you don’t blame the sheep; you blame the shepherd.”
1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 NASB)
1 Γνωρίζω δὲ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν, ὃ καὶ παρελάβετε, ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἑστήκατε, 2 διʼ οὗ καὶ σῴζεσθε, τίνι λόγῳ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν εἰ κατέχετε, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῇ ἐπιστεύσατε. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 NA28
The Apostle Paul defined the gospel for us throughout his writings in the New Testament. In these dark spiritual times in which people believe their opinions and feelings are consistent with “truth” it is vital that we know God’s truth and make it known to all who will hear. I would like to start in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. I placed vv1-2 at the top of this post. In v1 he tells us that he is going to define the Gospel (εὐαγγέλιον) as a process. In this process, the Gospel must be proclaimed (εὐηγγελισάμην) and through this some who hear it will receive it and it is their very foundation. I pray that you noticed the similarities between the two Greek words above. The word εὐαγγέλιον is Greek for “a good message” or “the good news.” The word εὐηγγελισάμην literally means “announce good news.” It is the word from which we get our English word “evangelize.” Notice also that those who hear the good news and are saved by it also stand (ἑστήκατε) within it because it is their foundation. This Greek word means “you stand” They abide in the covenant of the Gospel because it is now their foundation.
This subject is even more pertinent today than it was 4 years ago when Marsha West addressed it.
A few years ago “the world’s most famous Christian blogger,” Tim Challies, took Christian “watchbloggers” to task in his piece Evil as Entertainment. Thereafter, says Tim, “Much discussion, much gratitude, much criticism ensued.” Boy I’ll say!
Only recently did I stumble onto Evil as Entertainment and the follow-up he wrote for clarification. (Links below)
Tim views Christian watchbloggers (CWs) thusly:
Day after day they offer examples of all that is wrong in the church. They may vary what they offer a little bit, but what is true of them is that they offer a steady diet of negative content related to the church in general or perhaps related to just one person or one ministry. You know of some of these sites, I am sure.
Oh yes, I know of many of these sites. And I thank God for them.
What I found disappointing in Challies’ blogpost was that he painted CWs with such a broad brush. He complained that some of them offer negative content related to the church or one person or one ministry while others are:
really just a spiritualized form of YouTube or any other site that entertains by sharing what is gross and base and negative and that does so for the sake of entertainment. There is really no value in watching boys do stupid things on skateboards and laughing when they crack their ankle bones in half; there is really no value in watching the worst pastors in America preach to the worst churches in America. Such sites offer evil as entertainment.
Tim may have a point but it would have been helpful if he had honed in on what a trustworthy CW looks like. What do I look for? Firstly, must hold to all the essentials of the Christian faith; secondly, must fall within the pale of orthodoxy; thirdly, must teach sound doctrine; fourthly, must confront false teaching head on.
According to International Business Times:
Only 28% of heterosexuals believe that “there is no middle ground – you are either heterosexual or you are not”.
Kinsey estimated that around 10% of the population was gay, although this percentage was criticised by the American Statistical Association. However, a 2011 Gallup poll asked over 1,000 people in the US “what percentage of Americans today would you say are gay or lesbian?” On average, respondents guessed that 1-in-4 Americans were.
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 NASB
According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15 the mark of Christian authenticity is abiding or remaining in Him. This is not simply a continual profession of faith, but a remaining faithful to Christ in our orthodox Christian faith. According to Paul, it is a two-fold action of departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. The Apostle John called the Christian leaders who do this antichrists.
13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1 Peter 3:13-20 NASB
Genuine Christianity cannot coexist with any other religion. God has given us the tenets of our faith and they are mutually exclusive with the claims of all other religions. There can be no peace between them and true Christianity because once compromise has taken place here then what remains is something less and no longer true. We are called to live our lives in the flesh here in the temporal, but with entirely different motives than non-Christians. The confusion about this exists because what passes for Christianity, for the most part, in our time has been compromised. The world has been welcomed in various ways at different levels and the professing Christians within are far more concerned about their temporal existence rather than obeying God in all things for His glory.
Baptist Press reports on what occurred at the 2015 Send North America Conference during a main session panel discussion led by Kevin Ezell.
Ezell, president of the North America Mission Board, was joined on the platform by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore.
“Each one of these men would tell you — we cannot do what we do, and David [Platt] and the IMB [International Mission Board] cannot do what they do, if it were not for the sacrificial gifts of people in churches who give faithfully every Sunday,” said Ezell, who added he is equally appreciative of “churches who make a commitment to … the Cooperative Program. As they give [through] that, part of that goes to support the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, the ERLC and all the seminaries.”
According to Christian News Network:
The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling requiring a Christian baker to make cakes for “gay weddings” despite his biblical beliefs not to be a partaker in other men’s sins. (1 Timothy 5:22)
“We conclude that the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craig’s and Mullins’ sexual orientation, and therefore, [the initial arbiter] did not err when he found that Masterpiece’s refusal to create a wedding cake for Craig and Mullins was ‘because of’ their sexual orientation,’” the three-judge panel, consisting of Judges Daniel Taubman, Judge Michael Berger and Judge Alan Loeb, ruled on Thursday.
1 “ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:1-8 NASB
Spend any time at all in this dark spiritual time listening to the majority of what passes for “evangelical preaching” and you will hear some very bad, man-centered theology. The crux of this theology goes something like this. God wants everyone to have a vision and so every Christian needs to try really hard to pursue a vision until it aches within them. Then they know its from God and then they need to run after it as hard as they can. What passages from the Bible do you suppose they use to support that? Well, since its not found anywhere in God’s Word, they attempt to use passages out of context to do that and then misrepresent Jesus completely alien from His Holy nature that we are given in Scripture to one of being more like a servant of these people. They call this stuff either “vision-casting” or “vision-questing,” but, in any case, there are some so-called “evangelicals” who not only have those who preach this stuff come and preach it to their people, but they go to their “churches” as if they are all part of the same good ol’ boy network of ‘evangelicals.’ I think not. Oh, they may all be part of the same good ol’ boy network, but that ‘group’ has nothing to do with the Church and genuine Christianity.
Christian Examiner reports:
If a teenage boy living in New Jersey is sexually attracted to other boys, a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2013 says he shouldn’t ever have to undergo counseling that attempts to change his attraction.
The same law also protects those 18 and under who were born one gender, yet identify as another. But what if a minor wants counseling that helps him reduce or do away with unwanted same-sex attractions or identity?
According to Liberty Counsel, those minors are being denied their right to receive that type of counseling, because licensed mental health professionals in New Jersey are currently forbidden to offer it, even if the client wants it.
The Daily Signal reports:
The three states that recently denied taxpayers’ money to Planned Parenthood affiliates likely will be followed by others as public pressure mounts on governors and other state officials, regardless of whether Congress votes to defund the nation’s leading abortion provider.
Defunding on the state level—as in Alabama, Louisiana, and New Hampshire—may not be as sharp a blow to Planned Parenthood as loss of half a billion dollars a year from the federal government, a lawyer for a prominent opponent told The Daily Signal.
30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA28)
30 “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Genuine Christianity, not the false versions of it, is unique when compared to the world’s religions. In fact, those false versions of it are just like the rest of the world’s religions in one regard that makes genuine Christianity absolutely unique. All other “religions” are based upon some form of works based theology and belief system in which some form of justification is made through those works which increase the value of the person in that religion thereby gaining the reward. On the other hand, genuine Christianity is nothing like that at all. Salvation or justification comes as a result of something God has set out to do and has completed. Those who are justified were elected by him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) based upon no works or deeds or value inherent in them (that none may boast). All of the work to justify these elect was done by God and completed; and he, being sovereign and all-powerful, saves them all as we will see in the short passage we will exegete below. Those who are saved are new creations after their justification because God himself regenerated them so that their dead faith is made alive and they are now able to believe the gospel and be saved (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5). Who believes? Who are these Christians?
The Center for Medical Progress has just released the second video in the series they’re producing on Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practice of selling aborted baby body parts:
The second episode in a new documentary web series highlights a young woman’s eyewitness narrative of the daily practice of fetal body parts harvesting in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, describing tissue procurement workers’ coordination with abortion providers, the pressure placed on patients, and disregard for patient consent.
The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore various themes connected to Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 1, “Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts,” premiered last month. Episode 2, “Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site,” launches today at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABzFZM73o8M
The series follows the personal narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a former Blood and TIssue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a start-up biotech company from northern California that partners with Planned Parenthood clinics to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation. As a procurement tech, O’Donnell’s job was to identify pregnant patients matching the specifications of StemExpress customers and to harvest the fetal body parts from their abortions.
14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:“Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘ And it shall be in the last days, ’ God says,
‘ That I will pour forth of MY Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18 Even on MY bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of MY Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
19 ‘ And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
20 ‘ The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
21 ‘ And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:14-21 NASB
Thus began the Apostle Peter’s sermon following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost just 10 days following our Lord’s Ascension. I am going to walk through this sermon with you so that we can see how the Gospel works when preached with power and with the right focus. Who is being glorified in vv14-21 above? Is it the preacher Peter? Is it those prophesying? Is it those responding? No, it is God who is causing this to happen through the moving of His mighty hand. What will be the result as Peter summarizes in v21? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Here is that verse from Greek, “καὶ ἔσται πᾶς ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται.” The NASB’s rendering of “calls on” translates ἐπικαλέσηται the Aorist, Subjunctive, Middle form of ἐπικαλέομαι or epikaleomai, which, in this context, is making use of the name of the Lord in adoration as Lord and Saviour. This is a turning to Him for salvation from the hour of judgment and wrath to come. That is how Peter opens his sermon. Let us see the rest.
Berean Research reports the latest on the T.D. Jakes dust up:
T.D. Jakes is a master of obfuscation. This was very apparent in his recent TV interview with Huffington Post’s Marc Lamont Hill. Thus, a controversy erupted over some of the things he said – and failed say. That he’s a master of obfuscation was also obvious during the Elephant Room 2 controversy that came about over whether or not Jakes’ view of the Trinity is biblical. Most people are unaware that he has been associated with modalism, a heretical belief that rejects the orthodox view of the Trinity. For those who are unclear about this, a belief in the Trinity is an essential of Christianity and one of the non-negotiables. So if a person chooses to deny the existence of the Trinity or rejects the settled orthodox view set forth in Scripture, he/she is not a true Christian. During the E-2 discussion to clarify his beliefs with regard to the Trinity, Jakes did anything but clarify. His tap dance made Gene Kelly look like a rank amateur. Although he tried his best to come across as a true trinitarian, his arguments were unconvincing. (Daniel Neades makes the case)
There’s more. Jakes not only denies the Bible’s clear teaching with regard to the Trinity, he preaches the Word of Faith-prosperity gospel which comes out of the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Word-faith is the belief that faith is a force and words are the containers of the force. Words can be used to manipulate the faith-force — name it and claim it. By manipulating the faith-force we can create our own reality. Those who hold this view also believe Scripture promises health and wealth which is where we get terms such as “prosperity gospel” and “health & wealth gospel.” With this in mind, is “Bishop” Jakes a true Christian or a counterfeit?
The answer is that those who are outside the bounds of historic orthodox Christianity are counterfeit Christians.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Ephesians 2:8 NASB
What is saving faith? From where does it come? Is it something within natural man that everyone is born with and so can bring to life through self will or self effort or is it, as the Bible clearly says, that man is dead in trespasses and sins and, therefore, this saving faith is a gift from God and our salvation is His work from beginning to end?
According to Christian News Network:
A team of American and British scientists has published a new report detailing how natural selection, “the engine of evolution,” can actually prevent evolution from happening—a potentially devastating setback for evolutionists.
Natural selection, a term first popularized by Charles Darwin, plays a fundamental role in the theory of evolution. In his infamous book “The Origin of Species,” Darwin proposed that natural selection “leads to divergence of character and to much extinction of the less improved and intermediate forms of life.”